Cartoon animations are peppered with the use of the digital piano as a vehicle for their success. The piano is often featured as a live creature with black and white keys for teeth and the full register of the piano for its wide smile. From the Black and White movies of the 1930s to present day, a menagerie of well-known creatures have adorned the piano stool. These include mice, rabbits, cats and those in human form. Here is a short but interesting insight into those that play the looney tunes on their digital pianos:
The ‘Digital Piano Tooners’ 1932
Many cartoons use the digital piano as part of the slap-stick act. The scene begins with the feint scratching’s of ‘His Masters Voice’ vinyl on the gramophone. The double act Tom and Jerry feature as a little and large duo in a sketch of 1932 called the ‘Piano Tooners’. They can both be seen in black and white singing the song ‘’Margie’’ whilst playing the digital piano and a broom (guitar or ukulele). The piano needs ‘tooning’ and many a gaff follows interspersed with musical interludes.
Likewise Bugs Bunny Franz Liszt this time in colour see Bugs sitting on his piano stool playing Liszt as he weaves through
the repertoire at speed. Of course the proverbial carrot prop allows appears followed by numerous implausible spoofs. Bugs’ silly antics include a 2 fingered trill that represent a telephone ringing. This is followed by a real phone ringing that is tucked just inside the digital piano case.
The Opry House
The Mickey Mouse Piano Solo of 1927 is a short black and white clip showing magical Mickey as he works his way through the “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in C-sharp minor”. He wears white gloves so the audience can clearly see his movements on the digital piano keys. This is animation at its cutting edge as this cartoon makes way for ‘’Rhapsody in Rivets”, “The Cat Concerto” and “Rhapsody Rabbit’’. He finally battles with the piano and continues in his frustration to give the keys a good hammering. The digital piano retaliates and boots Mickey Mouse off the stage whilst he and the piano stool share a hearty laugh.
The series of Mr Beans Keyboard Capers Cartoons see him grapple with Beethoven’s Symphony V. The repetition of the first 8 notes see Mr Bean getting more and more frustrated as he picks up the piano stool in a fit of rage. His frumpy digital piano teacher leaves the room thinking he is starting to make progress as she can hear snatches of Eric Satie’s ‘Gymnopédie’. Mr Bean has a transistor radio hidden! Several hours and two teachers later there is no improvement. The climactic point is reached when Mr Bean uses a projector with an image of the great master himself reflected on the wall playing the fifth symphony. Mr Bean is seen synchronising his lack of talent as he plays the table!